Now that Hockey season is back, and the San Jose Sharks are doing well, I thought it was time to finally publish the recipe for one of my favorite “silly” drinks: The Sharkiekaze. I call this a “silly” cocktail because it is based on a classic, but tweaked for color.

The Sharkiekaze is based on the IBA recipe for the Kami Kaze and turned teal to honor my favorite NHL franchise.

  • 1 part (3cl) Vodka
  • 1 part (3cl) Triple Sec
  • 1 part (3cl) fresh sqeezed lime juice or Rose’s Lime
  • Dash of Blue Curacao to desired teal color

Add all ingredients into cocktail glass shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a gummy shark.

Kami Kaze was introduced to me as a shooter so I make up a couple of these at once and keep it in the freezer. I am fond of the “slushie” effect of keeping these cold between games. The photo shows the color you are looking for as well as both the Rose’s Lime Juice version and the fresh lime juice version. Since they both came from the freezer, the glasses are fogging up a bit, but the fresh drink is cloudy.  I prefer using fresh limes for these, but the bottled stuff is an acceptable replacement for most occasions.

We drink a Sharkiekaze after every Sharks win as a gift of thanks to the great and benevolent Hockey Gods. This sacrifice is one that we make gladly in hopes that the great and benevolent Hockey Gods (that is their full title) will smile on The Sharks and their fans, granting us good wins and deep playoff runs.

This year, I hope to need more Blue Curacao by the time the cup is raised.

The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is cited as the oldest cocktail. This claim comes from the early 19th century and defining the word “cocktail” in a manner that describes this very drink. So deeply rooted in cocktail history is the Old Fashioned that the glass it is served in is called an Old Fashioned.

As I’ve been sharpening my palate on single malts, my thirst for cocktails has waned. There are a couple though that will meet my need for complexity and variety at a basic bar. The old fashioned is wonderful in that it brings added character, body and flavor to normally pedestrian whiskeys. When it’s made with a really good bourbon like Bulleit, it’s even better.

Here is my personal recipe for the Bulleit Old Fashioned:

  • 7.5 ml (1/4 oz) simple syrup
  • 5cl (1.5oz) Bulleit Bourbon
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Mix all ingredients over 3-4 ice cubes in an old fashioned glass. No garnish is required. Zest with orange and rub the rim if you want some extra citrus zap, but you don’t need it.

My version is different from many others because I use homemade simple syrup and no soda. The IBA version starts with sugar cubes and soda water which to me is an unnecessary pain. Many other variations dump cherries, orange slices and the like into the mix. I prefer to keep the mix simple and let the spirits bring the complexity.

Other interesting variations include the use of rye whiskey or Scotch. I’ll have to try an Old Potrero Old Fashioned sometime. Both Old Potrero and Wild Turkey 101 would be good routes to getting messed up in a hurry. Use with caution.

BLT – Bulleit, Lemon and Tonic or “The Tom Bulleit”

I have written more than a few words about Bulleit Bourbon. When I first started exploring whiskey I shied away from Bourbon, mostly because of my college memories of Wild Turkey in the mountains of southern California. I remembered Bourbon as harsh and fiery and a one-way ticket to a bottle of aspirin.

At WhiskyFest 2007 I snagged a bit of glassware from the Bulleit Bourbon table. I wasn’t tasting Bourbons that night so I left with just the glass. The branding stuck with me though because about a month later I was checking prices at Trader Joe’s and Bulleit was about $20, so I picked it up. That first bottle was shared with everyone I could hand it to. I was so delighted with this wonderful spirit that I had to share.

Bulleit has a well balance flavor profile. It has notes all along the candy spectrum; toffee, caramel, vanilla and touches of smoky spice. It’s very sweet and smooth for a Bourbon but has a bold character from the heavy presence of Rye. These flavors work well when mixing because they complement other mixers very well. One of these days I’ll pound out a couple hundered words on Ginger Ale…

I’ve used Bulleit in every Bourbon cocktail we’ve made here at HQ. But the biggest suprise has been the BLT.

I first heard this drink mentioned by one of the Diageo Masters of Whisky at a talk held by Steve Beal at Whiskies of the World 2008. At that talk I also met Hollis Bulleit for what I thought was the first time. The description was simply Bulleit, Tonic and a wedge of lemon. At first this seemed completely off the script. Tonic and Bourbon seemed like a bad place to start.

Bulleit, Lemon and Tonic

Months later, I’m pouring Bulleit at WhiskyFest San Francisco 2008 with none other than Tom and Hollis Bulleit.  Hollis was sharing the basics with anyone interested in Bulleit cocktails. She never sat down with me to share the family recipe (she was too busy working the crowd and that dress) so I had to try to find the balance and understand the appeal.

I started with a ratio of 2:1 Tonic and Bulleit with just a squeeze of fresh lemon. This was close but ultimately it was more lemon that made the difference. So here is what I ended up with:

  • 1 1/2 oz (4.5 cl) Bulleit Bourbon
  • 3 oz (9 cl) Tonic Water
  • Juice of one quarter ripe Lemon

Build the drink over ice and stir. Garnish with a small lemon wedge.

I never would have thought this would work. The quinine adds a very subtle sweet & bitter complement to the very sweet lemon. Bulleit’s balance of flavors is enhanced by the tangy citris and bitter completing this drink. I hope that my recipe is close to what Tom makes because it came out very nice. It’s just the sort of thing I’d imagine drinking on the porch, in summer, in Kentucky.

I mentioned that I thought Whiskies of the world was my first meting with Hollis. Well, I was wrong. She was serving Bulleit at WhiskyFest SF 2007. She remembered that I had taken a glass and not tasted the whisky. I did the same thing with Woodford Reserve, I jsud wasn’t doing Bourbon that night. We seem to be on good grounds now though, I’ve given away gallons of bourbon and made quite a few fans in the process.

Bulleit & Ginger Cocktails

Bulleit & Ginger Cocktails

Every once in a while I get inspired by an ingredient. The world of cocktails and mixology has its own flow of trends. Some have outlasted their inspiration (every-tini, whatever-ita, and every random mojito) to become cliché. Others center on an ingredient such as Vinegar, Chipotle, or Island Malts. This is my little contribution to the world of cocktails and mixology: Ginger

The way this happened is that a couple of years ago, I was tasked with dinner and no plan. I found pork loin chops, asparagus, and a ginger root in the fridge. Seemed like a good opportunity to stir fry. The dish uses a large amount of fresh ginger and it has since become a favorite of the family. Last week, I was preparing this dish and found myself with some extra ginger and a desire for a cocktail.

I’m sure we’re not the first, nor will we be the last to put Ginger into a highball glass but here are our first contributions to the world of cocktails.

Ginger Julep — ’68 Fastback

This is the first of the drinks born from our first evening of experimentation. The first iteration included Angostura bitters which we decided were extraneous.  Once we realized that it was a Julep and not an Old Fashioned we took another swing at it.

What we end up with is a new twist on an old classic. The name is also a classic muscle car, and the specific model driven by Steve McQueen in Bullet.

  • 1 Jigger (45ml) Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) Organic Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp (5ml) peeled minced fresh ginger
  • Soda Water to taste (Approx 45ml)
  • garnish with a lemon or lime twist

Muddle the ginger and brown sugar together until all of the sugar is moistened and nearly dissolved. Add a dash of soda to finish dissolving the sugar, stir in your Bourbon. Finish with ice, soda to taste and a lemon or lime twist.

Bulleit Ginger Infusion & Orange — Magic Bulleit

The Old Fashioned is the granddaddy of cocktails. Probably the first drink to carry the name “cocktail” and as such it sets the foundation for many of my experiments. We’ve been playing with different bitters and variants on the Old Fashioned for another project, but when we finished the Bulleit Ginger Infusion it slotted itself right in.

  • 1 Jigger (45ml) Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) Bulleit Ginger Infusion (below)
  • 1.5 Tsp (7.5ml) Brown simple Syrup
  • Dash Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters
  • Orange Zest
  • Garnish with an orange flag

I always build Old Fashioned and their variants by stirring together the liquid ingredients (bitters, syrup, Bourbon, and Infusion) over ice. Stir until chilled, then zest garnish and enjoy!

Ginger Whiskey Sour

  • 1 Jigger (45 ml) Bulleit Bourbon whiskey
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) Bulleit Ginger Infusion
  • 1 Tsp (5 ml) Simple Syrup
  • dash egg white (optional)

It is shaken and served either straight or over ice. The traditional garnish is half an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

The last one of these I made with the white of one egg and shook it until we had a happy sassy froth.

Bulleit Ginger Infusion

Once we realized exactly how well Bulleit takes to fresh ginger we had to try an infusion.

  • 1″ peeled sliced Ginger root
  • 8oz Bulleit Bourbon

Put the Boubon and ginger in a clean bottle. Soak in the fridge for 3 days shaking once a day. Filter Bourbon through a cheesecloth, and squeeze the juice from the ginger. Keep refridgerated and shake before using. Ginger-infused bourbon makes a great base for a variety of cocktails. We’d love to hear about yours!

Rob Roy Revisited

Rob Roy

We pulled up the eight blended whiskys that we happen to have on hand: Buchannan 12, Chivas Regal 12 Chivas Regal 18, Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker Black, Johnnie Walker Green, Johnnie Walker Red, And Suntory Hibiki for evaluation. We promptly put the Hibiki back away where it belongs, before my wife beat me.

The Rob Roy was First served at the Dorchester Hotel London, 1909 and Johnnie Walker was the Scotch of choice. Hence our inclusion of the three most common varieties of Johnnie Walker in this test.

We’ve decided to persue the “Perfect” Rob Roy, also known as Beal’s Cocktail which is made with equal parts dry and sweet vermouth, a couple of dashes of bitters and Blended Scotch Whisky.

Since this a scientific research, we needed to make sure our results weren’t tainted by any external factors. I prepared the base drinks identically with 3 drops of bitters, 5ml each of sweet and dry vermouth and my wife added 30ml of Scotch to each of the glasses. She numbered the glasses and recorded which whisky was where. We were a bit suspicious about the accuarcy of the pours due to the giggling, snickering and other unscientific mirth eminating from the other room. Clearly they were not taking this as seriously as we were.

We added a couple of ice cubes to each and stirred to chill. Then we had to taste each one, note pads and pencils at the ready Mike started at seven moving back and I worked my way up our little scale. My first tase confirmed my previous fears:

Many of the Scotch whiskeys that I would choose are “done”. The idea of using Vermouth and bitters to “enhance” a scotch seems like using neon spray paint to enhance the David.

My first sample was smoky and smooth. The Scotch was there, but the dry vermouth was the most prominent flavor. I’ve had a lot of cocktails, and this one was good but I was a bit dissappointed that after tasting a good Rob Roy, all I really wanted was the underlying Scotch. Determined not to give up so easily, I continued on and tasted the rest. The next three were unremarkable, vermouth taking center stage and subtle differences from the Scotch keeping some distinction between glasses.

Number five was interesting, very rich and slightly peaty and standing up to the vermouth a bit. At that moment five was my favorite. Number six was completely different (for reasons I’ll explain in a moment) It was sweet and oakey with a lot of body. Amazingly, number six seemed like the first drink on the table that played well with the vermouth.

Down to the last, number seven. This was my favorite of the bunch. I knew instantly what Scotch was there and not only did it stand up to the vermouth, it knocked over the table and told vermouth to sit down before a new definition of bangers and mash was demonstrated. Johnnie Walker Green was the only vatted or pure malt on the table and it’s differences were obvious. A good cocktail is made by bringing together elements that can work together harmoniously and adding their voices to create something new and more beautiful than the individual parts. Vermouth and Johnnie Walker Green are more like two of your best mates at the pub arguing over some foolish thing as if the outcome is determined by the decibels of their voices while bitters moves the furniture so nobody gets seriously hurt.

So that’s what we have here then, not a chorus raising your spirits, but a scrap in a bar to get your heart pumping.

We chose our top three, Mine being Seven, Five, and One. Mike selected Two, Seven and Five. Here’s the whiskey list for these drinks:

  1. Buchannan 12
  2. Johnnie Walker Black
  3. Chivas Regal 12
  4. Famous Grouse
  5. Chivas Regal 18
  6. (see below)
  7. Johnnie Walker Green

About number six… Mike had been doing some shopping recently and his additions to the box were scattered about HQ, some having been put away and others not. The grain bill for before dinner tasting included Bushmills 1608, Canadian Club Sherry Cask, and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 year old. Number six ended up not being a Rob Roy at all, but instead, a Perfect Manhattan. I had picked this one as my number three, but we had to eliminate it on a minor technical note.

Now all things considered, we set out to find the Whiskey Bros. Rob Roy, and we did:

  • 1/4oz Itallian Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/4oz Itallian Dry Vermouth
  • 3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 5cl (2oz) Johnnie Walker Green

Prepare by mixing the vermouth, and bitters with ice in an old fashioned glass. Stir until chilled. Empty the glass into the sink and rinse well. Add the Johnnie Walker to a cool clean Glencairn or brandy snifter and enjoy. Garnish with a couple of drops of water.

The Manhattan

Manhattan cocktail

Even though the Martini gets all the press these days, the Manhattan is an older drink with stronger provenance. Where the modern Martini bears little resemblance to its early incarnations, the Manhattan has retained much of the original character. Both can easily find their roots in the 1800’s but were developed on opposite coasts.

My first Manhattan was made with Crown Royal as I will describe below. This seemed like a perfectly reasonable choice for a Manhattan, but for some reason the last couple bar tenders have not agreed.The last time I ordered a Manhattan, their preference was for Maker’s Mark. The traditional whiskey was rye, but like so many modern interpretations of old drinks, bourbon has become the whiskey of choice.

I serve my Crown Royal Manhattans in a martini glass, stirred and straight up. Here’s my recipe:

  • 5cl (1.5oz) Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey
  • 2cl (.5 oz) Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients over a healthy amount of ice until thoroughly chilled. Strain ijnto your glass and garnish as you please. I will zest and rim with orange but any more than that starts to detract from the body of he drink. As far as I know, they didn’t have Maraschino cherries in the 1860’s but that is the common garnish for a Manhattan.

Again like the Martini there are so many variations to the Manhattan, most notably the Rob Roy. Touching back on tradition, a rye heavy bourbon like Bulleit would be good as well as a straight rye like Old Potrero or Sazerac Rye. Other ideas I would endorse include Forty Creek Three Grain (if you can find it), George Dickel (if you can find it). If you’re using a really stiff bourbon, try shaking it.

The Black Pearl: Rum and Root Beer

Rum and Root Beer was an accidental creation of BayCon. I was invited in for a mandatory drink by and old acquaintance. He had Meyers Rum but no Coke. So I grabbed the closed thing I could find — Henry Weinhard’s Root Beer.

This proved to be the most fortuitous accident of my drinking life. Root Beer complements rum much more cleanly than Coke. It also works well with spiced rum.

Mike has been present for many experiments with the Rum and Root Beer. We’ve varied both ingredients up and down the scale. Rums include Captain Morgan, Captain Morgan Tattoo, Captain Morgan Silver, Whalers, and Sailor Jerry. Root beers have included Weinhard’s, IBC, Jones, Hansen’s, Mug, A&W, and the favorite, Virgil’s.

Virgil’s and Captain Morgan Tattoo has been cited as the best combination.

Ratios vary, but with a sweet rum 2 parts Root Beer to 1 part rum works. Add more root beer as your taste suits.

Now that we have the recipe completed, we’ve designated a name fitting this delight other than it’s constituent ingredients. I think “The Black Pearl” is perfect for this one.

Rum and Root Beer

Irish Coffee

irish coffee

Irish Coffee has always been a great drink for many nocturnal adventures. The caffiene keeps you up and the whiskey keeps you loose. It’s wonderful for a good time at the casino when you just want to have fun … all night long. Obviously alcohol and better judgement rarely go hand in hand so use the extra hours of stimulant-induced joy sanely.

There’s plenty of legend surrounding this drink, but it apparently goes back to the 1940’s and an Irish airport.

The Basics:

  • 2 parts Irish whiskey
  • 4 parts fresh hot coffee
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • fresh whipped cream

There is a special glass for Irish Coffe, but you don’t really need it. I start by dropping the sugar into the cup, then the coffee, stir in the whiskey and quickly top with the cream. Canned cream is perfect for rolling out a bunch of these at a party. The most important ingredients to get right are the coffee and the whiskey.

For Saint Patrick’s Day 2007 I brought in a bottle of Jameson to the office for a round of Coffees. We had a short assembly line going using 2 packets of “Sugar in the Raw”, 4 ounces of Starbuck’s House, 2 ounces of Jameson and topping with canned Whipped cream. We knocked down that bottle to 2 fingers in one pot of coffee.

There are a lot of variations on this drink. I’ve heard of replacing the whipped cream with Irish Cream which I will have to try soon. Most often varied is the whiskey of choice. Spider Robinson lists Stonebender’s Irish coffee as “God’s Blessing” and is based on Bushmills Black Bush which I have tried and enjoyed. The Buena Vista in San Francisco uses sugar cubes and Tullamore Dew.

I spent more than a couple hours playing Blackjack and drinking Irish coffee in Reno a few years ago. If you get a good one, you’ll know it.

Rob Roy

Rob Roy cocktail

The Rob Roy is basically a Manhattan made with Scotch whiskey. It is named for Robert Roy MacGregor.

I don’t have my own recipe yet, but I will get one together after some experimentation. I think that finding the right ingredients for me will take some thought. Many of the Scotch whiskeys that I would choose are “done”. The idea of using Vermouth and bitters to “enhance” a scotch seems like using neon spray paint to enhance the David. Maybe that’s just the single-malts talking again.

I think I will try Scotch that is generally available, one that could take the new flavors as an addition instead of grafitti. Johnny Walker Red or Black are used commonly but I try to be different, so maybe Glenfiddich. Using Johnny Walker Green seems like a case of subtraction by addition, but anything is possible. I won’t know until I try. A lowland single malt Scotch would be from the same neighborhood as Rob Roy himself, though bitters and Vermouth aren’t exactly local.

The IBA describes it this way:

  • 4.5 cl Scotch whisky
  • 2.5 cl Sweet vermouth
  • Dash Angostura bitters

Stirred over ice, strained into a chilled glass, garnished with a Maraschino cherry, and served straight up.The perfect uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. Dry, would be, as the name implies, made with only dry vermouth.